Georgia GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Vow to Oppose Casino Gambling Legalization Efforts

Georgia’s leading GOP gubernatorial candidates confirmed that they will all oppose any attempts for the legalization of casino gambling in the state. The state’s next gubernatorial election will take place in November 2018 and it is believed that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, former Sen. Hunter Hill, Sen. Michael Williams, and Secretary of State Brian Kemp are the four main Republican contenders for the position.

During a Saturday forum in Milledgeville, Georgia, the four candidates were given the stage to present their views on various important state matters. All four promised to reject any proposals for the amendment of the state Constitution in a manner that would allow for the construction of casino properties within Georgia’s borders.

The state’s casino legalization push spans several years back. The most recent attempt made by local legislators to pass a casino bill occurred in early 2017. However, the effort did not gain much support in the state Senate. It is believed that the gambling debate could be renewed this fall.

Republicans hold the majority in the state Legislature, and they have long opposed staunchly any attempts for changes in the gambling status quo.

Georgia’s Previous Casino Legalization Proposals

As mentioned above, it has been several years now that lawmakers have tried to legalize casino gambling in the state. Proposals have generally been quite similar – the implementation of a constitutional amendment that would nix the ban on casino expansion and would allow for the construction of two casino resorts in different parts of Georgia.

Atlanta was suggested as the host of the larger of the two complexes. Under the proposals, the resort would have been placed a $2-billion price tag. Both gambling venues were to be required to pay 20% on their gambling revenue. Part of the money was to be used to sponsor the state’s HOPE scholarship, a special program that rewards students with academic achievements of different nature.

The latest such proposal was introduced in the Legislature in early 2017. Sen. Brandon Beach was the lawmaker behind the effort. However, his casino bill failed its first committee vote and was declared dead for this year.

In August, members of the Georgia GOP state committee approved a resolution that opposed the legalization of casinos and horse racing. Republican lawmakers pointed out that increased gambling could be tied to rise in divorce and crime rates and that the state should not be nurturing interest in “predatory activities” to fund its coffers.

According to proponents of the effort, Georgia’s casino industry could be worth more than $600 million. It is believed that this is the amount locals spend annually at casinos in neighboring states. Discussions over the potential legalization of casino gambling have attracted the attention of casino operator MGM Resorts International. The company, which operates properties in Las Vegas, Maryland, Michigan, and Macau, among others, has expressed particular interest in building a resort in Atlanta and has joined lobbying efforts for changing the current laws that prohibit gambling expansion.

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